Balcony flax experiment 2020 #2

As you could read in the previous post, I’ve made a planting box which is 15 cm in width, 104 cm in length and 75 cm in depth. I was curious how the flax would develop in the potting soil mix and how tall the plants would get under the conditions on my balcony. It is a really sunny spot and the wall of the house sits directly behind the plant box, which means there could be a accumulation of heat on very hot days. I was using flax seeds that I had purchased last year of the breed “Callista”. Originally I had planned to use the flax seeds from the fields in Germany but due to a completely locked university building – where my workplace was – I could not access the seeds. But sowing season was now, April/May, so I didn’t have a choice but to go for the older seeds.

I used 2,7 grams of seeds for that planting box and was sowing it broadly (10.04.2020). I worked the seeds 2cm into the soil with a regular fork. In addition I was also sowing 1g of red flowering linen (linum grandiflorum), which is usually used as decoration, in a 25 cm deep pot of 25 cm diameter. 1g of seeds were probably way too much for this pot, but since I didn’t grow it for fibres I think it was fine. In fibre flax production it is very relevant that the flax isn’t sown too broad or too dense so the stems have a certain thickness.

In general I am very happy how it went until now, as there haven’t been tragedies with the balcony flax, like storm damage. Linum usitassimum germinated a bit quicker than linum grandiflorum, the first little plants were visibile after 5 days in the planting box. Both flax varieties grew well over the next few weeks. Linum grandiflorum reached a height of 50cm when flowering and linum usitassimun between 32cm and 80cm. I am imagining this height difference comes from the difficult conditions on the balcony (rather hot and dry) but I also saw big differences in height this year on The Linen Project flax fields. I was shocked though how much water both varieties needed in order to grow well (and not hang their heads in sadness). Linum grandiflorum needed 500ml to 1l daily and linum usitassimum between 3l and 10l (!) on hot days.

At some point I was also slightly worried because on both flax varieties sat many shield bug nymphs. They apparently nourish on the plant sap of the host plant. I also spotted some leaf miner larvae on it. But after I removed the affected leafs, and collected the nymphs to place them on a new host plant, the flax was doing fine again. At some point, around flowering time, linum usitassimum also started to get mildew. It didn’t come unexpected because there had been very hot days and I’ve heard heat and water stress can cause mildew to flourish. Last year the flax in Germany got it too and it didn’t cause too much damage because it also happened rather late in the growth. For two weeks already I can enjoy beautiful blue and red flowers! The sd card of my camera is filled up again already, because I can’t stop taking pictures of the little beauties.

I am so curious what the harvest will bring! I am considering to also ret linum grandiflorum and work it into fibres because I had the idea it was generally coping better with the balcony situation. Maybe because it was less tall? Maybe because generally it is more robust? I don’t know. In about a week I will harvest – can’t wait to see the results! Here’s the following post.

Leave a Reply